Impact Wrestling: No Surrender 2023 Review

impact wrestling no surrender review

Impact Wrestling invaded Las Vegas for their monthly live special No Surrender, where Josh Alexander defended the Impact World Championship in the main event against Rich Swann.

Impact Wrestling 23/2/23 from Sam’s Town Live in Las Vegas, Nevada

There were two matches on the Countdown to No Surrender pre-show. I watched them both, but as this review is long enough I will just list the results and my ratings in brackets. Both matches should’ve appeared on the main card in place of other matches that looked weaker on paper.

Gisele Shaw w/ Jay Vidal defeated Deonna Purrazzo by pinfall (***)

Shaw won after Savannah Evans interfered and hit Purrazzo with the Full Nelson Slam.

Jonathan Gresham defeated Mike Bailey by pinfall (***)

Unfortunately they only gave this 10 minutes and made Bailey sell a knee injury so it was underwhelming but still a solid match.

Main Show

The show opened with the usual hype video that showcased the main matches that we will see tonight. It’s a really solid card and, despite what they left on the pre-show, it should be a great night of wrestling. Tom Hannifan and Matt Rehwoldt welcomed those who didn’t watch the pre-show to the main card and mentioned that it was a sold out crowd (around 1,000 people). Santino Marella made his way to the ring to kick off the show.

Promo Time with Santino

Santino Marella introduced himself (still wearing his badge) and welcomed us to the show. He said how thrilled everyone was to be back in Vegas. Marella introduced Frankie Kazarian for the opening contest

Match #1: Frankie Kazarian vs Kon w/ Callihan & The Design

They’re getting one of the weakest matches on the card out of the way early, but Kaz is popular so he will pump the crowd up. Marella joined the commentary booth, as the commentators wondered what Callihan’s true intentions with The Design were. Kon stopped Callihan from doing his thumbs up routine, once again. Kaz used his quickness early on to avoid Kon’s strikes. He tried some chops on Kon that did little damage. Kaz ran against the ropes and clotheslined Kon over the top rope, but Kon landed on his feet. Kaz hit a baseball slide which knocked Kon into the guard rail. He chopped away on Kon on the outside. Kaz tried to toss Kon back into the ring, but Kon bounced off the ropes and clotheslined Kaz on the floor. Kon nailed Kaz with a number of chops then they both went back into the ring. Kon hit a scary-looking back body drop and a big elbow for a 2 count. Deaner was showing watching from the ramp. Kon tried to lock a Vice Grip on Kaz’s neck. He covered again after dropping a few right hands to the face of Kaz, but Kaz kicked out at 1. Kaz fought out of a Crucifix Bomb but ran into a spinebuster. Kon got a 2 count. He stomped away on Kaz in the corner, then teed off with right hands. He tried to slam Kaz by swinging him by his legs, but Kaz landed on his feet. Kon tossed Kaz clear over the top rope with an Irish Whip. He threw Kaz back into the ring then got up on the ring apron very slowly, which allowed Kaz to hit a leg drop with Kon in the ropes. Kon was still down so Kaz hit a springboard leg drop on the neck of Kon. Kon cut Kaz off with a shoulder block then went for a move off his shoulders, but Kaz countered it into a reverse DDT for 2. Kaz tried to set up the Crossface Chicken Wing but Kon was too strong. Kaz clubbed away at the back of Kon then went back to the Chicken Wing. Kon backed Kaz into the corner, then pummelled him with elbow strikes and a headbutt. Uncharacteristically, Kon went to the top rope and Kaz quickly cut him off. Kon swatted him to the mat and went for a diving headbutt but Kaz moved out of the way. He went for a quick crucifix pin but Kon kicked out at 2. Kaz almost locked in the Chicken Wing with Kon grounded on the mat, but Angels appeared on the apron as the distraction. Kaz broke the hold and knocked Angels down. Callihan grabbed a steel chair whilst the referee was distracted by Angels, but Kaz reversed the Irish Whip and Callihan bashed Kon’s brains in with the chair by mistake. Kaz launched Kon back into the ring with the springboard cutter to win the match at 9:24.

Winner by pinfall: Frankie Kazarian

Analysis: *** That was fine as an opening contest and part of the storyline. The crowd enjoyed The Design’s woes, especially Callihan’s error and it was booked well.

After the match, Deaner was not happy with Callihan and got in his face to tell him off.

Gia Miller was having some microphone issues as she interviewed Brian Myers backstage, ahead of his #1 Contender match later on. Myers talked about his strategy, which must’ve been what the question was, and said that he was focused on singles wrestling now. Miller asked about Matt Cardona and Myers hoped that Joe Hendry gets humiliated tonight, just as Hendry humiliated Cardona.

Analysis: Bit of audio trouble for the second time tonight, but a confident promo from Myers who is always good on the mic.

There was a highlights video about the Impact Knockout’s Tag Team Championship feud, so they are getting the two matches I am least interested in out of the way early. Good job!

Match #2: Impact Knockouts Tag Team Championship: Death Dollz (c) (Taya Valkyrie & Jessicka w/ Rosemary) vs The Hex (Marti Belle and Allysin Kay)

The Titan Tron says Hex, but the commentators and ring announcers keep adding a ‘The’ at the start so I don’t know if they’re officially The Hex or Hex, but it’s annoying me. They were out first, with the Taglines pre-match notes up on the screen, followed by the champions. There were more audio issues, as the theme music went completely off, then I could only just make out what the commentators were saying and then it went completely silent again. Not sure if it’s FITE’s issue or Impact but the match begins in full silence. Kay and Valkyrie start the match and Kay quickly backs Valkyrie into her corner and tags Belle. The commentary is back as Belle makes a quick cover for 2. Valkyrie whips Belle into her corner and hits a big elbow. She tags in Jessicka, who takes Belle down then runs the ropes, but Kay trips her up. Belle pummels away on Jessicka who is caught in the ropes. She hits a running knee then mocks Jessicka’s hand signals. Jessicka misses a corner attack so the Hex take the opportunity to double team her and Kay tags in. They hit a double team clothesline and Kay covers for a 1 count. Kay has a half Nelson applied but Jessicka powers out until Kay pulls her to the mat by her hair. Kay throws Jessicka face first into the turnbuckle. She distracts the referee so Belle chokes Jessicka out with the corner rope. Kay chops Jessicka against the turnbuckle a couple of times. Jessicka comes back with her own strikes, but Kay rocks her with a big forearm. Kay wrenches at the face of Jessicka, then applies a sleeper. Jessicka gets to her feet and backs into the heel corner so Belle can tag back in. She distracts the referee again so Kay chokes out Jessicka with her foot against the bottom rope. Belle takes too long to get to the corner, so Jessicka nails her with a big headbutt and makes the tag to Valkyrie. Belle also makes the tag to Kay, who runs into a Blue Thunder Bomb. Kay kicks out at 2. Valkyrie avoids a kick and catches Kay’s leg, then double-stomps her face-first into the mat. Belle interrupts the count then Belle and Kay run head-first into each other as they attempt a double-team move. Jessicka tries to get involved which allows Kay to hit a Samoan Drop for 2. Kay puts Valkyrie onto the top rope, but Taya slips between her legs and hits a powerbomb. Belle made a blind tag and nailed Valkyrie with a forearm, sending her to the corner where Jessicka could tag in. Belle taunted the fans, then turned around and Jessicka hit the Sick Kick. Kay entered the ring, so Valkyrie cut her off with a spear. Kay fought out of the Road to Valhalla with a kick to the head. The Hex tried a double powerbomb but Jessicka intercepted Belle with a running uppercut. Jessicka hit a choke bomb, but Kay wasn’t the legal woman. Jessicka hit Belle with the Sick Driver to retain the titles at 8:57.

Winner by pinfall AND STILL Impact Knockout’s Tag Team Champions: Death Dollz

Analysis: **3/4 It was okay as a simple match, but disappointing to see the Hex losing clean in their first shot, after being built up as a credible team over the last few weeks. That kills their momentum immediately and we are stuck with the Death Dollz as champs for a while longer.

There was a video package of Moose and Joe Hendry’s Impact Digital Media Championship match from Hard to Kill, as part of this feud, as well as Moose looking for revenge by smashing Joe Hendry’s car. It turned out to be Santino’s car, so he booked Moose in another match against Hendry.

Match #3: Dot Combat Match for the Impact Digital Media Championship: Joe Hendry (c) vs Moose

A Dot Combat Match means digital-themed weapons are legal. Hendry defied tradition and entered first, as the champion, to cut a quick promo. There were actually a few boos which was the first I’ve noticed for Hendry. Moose was out next as the challenger. He ran straight into Hendry and attacked him before the bell went. When the bell did ring, Moose hit a big kick on Hendry in the corner. Moose choked Hendry out with his ring jacket and then went under the ring for some weapons. Moose got a SEGA Dreamcast as well as a keyboard. He also brought a stock standard steel chair into the ring. Hendry fired back with a flurry of right hands. He hit Moose over the back with a keyboard and Hannifan called Hendry a “Scottish keyboard warrior” (shudder). Hendry tossed Moose out of the ring and into the steel ring post. Hendry drove Moose face-first into another steel ring post. Hendry ran at Moose who caught him and put him through a table with the Uranage. Not much of Hendry connected with the table there, looking at the replay. Moose brought Hendry back into the ring and whipped him hard into the top turnbuckle. He set up a steel chair in the corner. Moose gave Hendry the bird, so Hendry repeated the dose by using the lid of the Dreamcast. Funny stuff there. Hendry nailed Moose in the head with the Dreamcast twice. There goes the value of that system. Hendry retrieved a remote control car from underneath the ring and Moose kicked it out of the ring because it was stupid. Hendry hit a scoop slam and a Trust Fall. He was searching for something under the ring and brought out a box with a bigger remote control car. The batteries in the car weren’t working so Hendry just tossed the car at Moose and it hit him down low. Moose sent Hendry into the turnbuckle with the steel chair and launched him off the top with the Sky High for a close 2 count. Moose re-set the steel chair against the turnbuckle and went back underneath the ring to get some thumb tacks. However, when he tipped the bag out they were only keyboard caps. Moose planted Hendry with the Uranage onto the caps. Moose went up top but Hendry threw some of the caps in Moose’s eyes. Hendry cut Moose off and nailed him with a superplex into the keyboard caps. Moose kicked out at 2. Both men searched for weapons on the opposite side of the ring. Moose got a steel chair, whilst Hendry got a gaming chair. Moose missed with his chair, so Hendry drilled him in the head with the gaming chair. Hendry hit a popup powerbomb into the keyboard caps on Moose, but he just kicked out before 3. Hendry retrieved a Virtual Reality headset from under the ring. He put it on Moose who now couldn’t see. Moose had a nightclub scene in his headset so he started dancing. Hendry then changed it to the Dancing Moose song and Moose stopped enjoying himself. Moose went for the spear on Hendry who sidestepped and sent Moose into the steel chair. Hendry hit a cutter which spiked Moose on the key caps for another 2 count. Moose countered the Standing Ovation with a huge low blow. Moose covered but Hendry kicked out at 2. Hendry countered a Moose spear into a hip toss which rolled through into a pin for a close 2 count. Moose rolled up Henry using his tights for a 2 count, so Hendry did the same and held the tights to get the 3 count! The match went 12:14.

Winner by pinfall AND STILL Impact Digital Media Champion: Joe Hendry

Analysis: *** This was silly, but had enough action for it to still be enjoyable enough. I would’ve preferred that they had the ‘weapons’ set up around the ring, as they spent a fair bit of the match retrieving things from underneath the ring and continually doing that. I prefer regular matches between these two.

Gia Miller was backstage with Impact Knockouts’ Champion, Mickie James. James said she has a lot on her plate and is sick of hearing from Jordynne Grace that she tapped out at Hard to Kill. She said that she will deal with her after she has finished off Masha Slamovich tonight. James said the Last Rodeo might be over, but the era of Mickie James as champion is just beginning.

There were highlights of Bully Ray and Tommy Dreamer’s interactions over the last few months and the breakdown of their friendship since Bully turned heel. Bully won the Beat the Clock challenge by cheating, so he gets to speak first on Busted Open Radio live tonight.

Busted Open Radio with Dave LaGreca, Bully Ray and Tommy Dreamer

Dave LaGreca was out first and said he was excited to be in Vegas (is anyone ever not?). LaGreca reminded us that Bully and Dreamer host the show with him. He said things have got too heated on Impact and tonight they will have 60 seconds of uninterrupted speaking time. LaGreca introduced Dreamer first and then Bully in a far less enthusiastic manner. Bully was dressed in a suit jacket instead of his usual wrestling singlet. He spoke first. The first few seconds were drowned out by boos from the crowd. Bully just stood there and looked at the ground. He moved over towards Dreamer and the crowd told him to shut up even though he hadn’t started to talk yet. Bully’s time was almost up and he uttered “I’m sorry” as the 60 seconds ended. Dreamer laughed that off. He didn’t believe Bully at all. Dreamer mocked Bully for complaining all week and then saying nothing. Dreamer fired up and went off at Bully for ripping on Dreamer’s dying mother. Dreamer’s time was up so Bully spoke again and said he agreed with Dreamer that this has gone too far and that he has said a lot of horrible things. Bully said let’s scrap the time limits and talk it out. He apologised for bringing up Dreamer’s mother. Bully said he watched a documentary on the nWo. He said that Kevin Nash started to cry because it was the first time he had to do a documentary without Scott Hall, who passed away in March last year. This got Bully thinking about him and Dreamer and how they were as close as Nash and Hall. Bully said he got thinking about death and how they should work issues out before it’s too late to regret it. Bully got emotional and told Dreamer that if something to happen him he would be at his funeral and probably carrying his coffin. Bully said for the benefit of Impact and Busted Open, he would prefer that him and Dreamer were civil. Bully said he felt like that’s what he needed to say. He said he didn’t need a handshake or a hug. Dreamer said there wouldn’t be any of that, but he’s proud of Bully that someone like him could admit his faults and they could now go their separate ways. The crowd was waiting for something to happen and then Bully threw something in Dreamer’s eyes. Bully had a stool and backed LaGreca into the corner and he sold it like he’d been shot. Bully smashed a coffee urn (I think) over the head of Dreamer. Bully stood over Dreamer and asked what “somebody like me” meant. Bully asked Dreamer if he knew who he was and his theme music played as he stared at the damage in the ring.

Analysis: You could see that coming a mile away, but Bully drew you in just enough that you might think it would end amicably there and Bully would attack another time but they pulled the trigger tonight. It was well done. Dreamer continues to play the beaten down, sad friend well but now we are going to have to see a match between them so there’s that.

After the match, Bully intimidated the ring announcer and commentators. There was a promo video for Impact vs NJPW Multiverse United PPV on March 30th. Last year’s show was fun so I’m looking forward to that again.

Gia Miller interviewed #1 Contender Rich Swann. Swann said tonight was the night, after two years, that he has worked his way back to the top and will take his opportunity. Steve Maclin interrupted and said he hopes Swann wins because he knows he can beat Swann. Swann said he is focused on the title and not Maclin’s mind games. Swann said Maclin isn’t even #1 Contender yet and he hopes they both win so that Swann can whoop his ass at Rebellion.

Analysis: I think you can lock in Alexander vs Maclin at the Rebellion PPV, although I thought it might be saved for Slammiversary.

Match #4: #1 Contender Match for the Impact World Championship: Steve Maclin vs PCO vs Heath vs Brian Myers

The winner faces Alexander/Swann at the Rebellion PPV in April. They all charged at PCO as the bell sounded. PCO took them all down with right hands. He clotheslined Maclin out of the ring and their momentum sent them both out. Myers and Heath squared off in the ring. Heath sent him over the top rope and hit a senton from the ring apron that took out Myers and Maclin. Heath and Myers were arguing so Maclin ran back into the ring and then through the ropes, taking them down with a diving clothesline. PCO went to the top and took out all 3 men with a PCOSault. 90 seconds in and he has already brought out the high-risk moves. Everyone took their time to recover, so Maclin hit PCO with a DDT on the ring ramp. PCO tossed Myers into the steel steps. He went to piledrive Myers on the steps, but Myers dumped PCO over his back and onto the floor. Maclin helped Myers suplex PCO on the ramp. They threw PCO under the ring and turned their attention to Heath. Maclin chopped Heath down to the mat and Myers hit him with a suplex. Maclin hit Heath with a suplex, too. Heath fought back and sent Myers to the outside with a right hand. Maclin levelled him with a running elbow and then hit a backbreaker for a 2 count. Maclin backed Heath into the corner and chopped him. He ran at heath but Heath dumped him out to the floor. Myers came back in and hit a running knee on Heath for a 2 count. Myers talked trash so Heath hit him with a few right hands. Myers took him down with a Flatliner. Myers mocked PCO, so PCO emerged from under the ring and confronted Myers. Myers wasn’t looking so confident anymore. He ran away from PCO. PCO ran at Maclin, who dodged out of the way, so PCO hit a cannonball through the ropes to wipe out Myers. Heath was back in the ring now and hit Maclin with a powerslam for a 2 count. Heath went for the Wake Up Call but Maclin held on to the ropes. Heath was still able to hit the move partially, but it allowed Maclin to roll out of the ring and avoid getting pinned. PCO hit the Deanimator on Maclin so was lying on the ring apron. There was a wide shot of the crowd, which looked impressive in size for an Impact event. Myers snuck into the ring and hit a spear on Heath, who barely kicked out. Myers measured Heath for another spear, but PCO ran in with a splash in the corner. PCO took down Heath with a clothesline. PCO with a reverse DDT on Myers then went to the top rope. PCO hit the PCOSault on Myers. The referee was about to count the 3 but she stopped so Eddie Edwards could slowly make his way to the ring and hit PCO with a shovel to break up the pin. That was terrible timing. Edwards hit PCO in the head with the shovel. Extra referees ran down to remove Edwards, even though Fatal-4-Way matches are No-DQ. Back in the ring, Heath hit the Wake Up Call on Myers. Maclin ran in and hit the KIA on Heath to win the match at 9:19.

Winners by pinfall AND NEW #1 Contender: Steve Maclin

Analysis: ***1/2 Even though that was one of the most obvious outcomes in any wrestling you see this week, it was still a fast-paced match with plenty of action and everyone was given their time to shine. I expected the Edwards interference so that took PCO out, Myers isn’t a World Title name at present and Heath has had a few shots, so Maclin makes the most sense and fits his long-term storyline. The build to Maclin vs. Alexander (I assume) will be really good.

X-Division Champion, Trey Miguel, appeared on the ramp to cut a promo. Miguel complained about being left off the card. He wondered if AJ Styles or Samoa Joe were X-Division Champion, if they would be forgotten about. He walked down to ringside, still ranting, and ran into PCO who hit him with a chokeslam on the ring apron.

Analysis: It was nice to see Miguel get some promo time, but I would’ve preferred him to be interrupted by his next challenger, rather than for PCO to leave the crowd happy after he lost his match.

Rich Swann and Josh Alexander were shown backstage warming up separately for the main event. There was a video package to show the build to the next match, which is a 6-man tag match.

Match #5: Time Machine (Kushida and the Impact World Tag Team Champions: The Motor City Machine Guns) vs Bullet Club (Chris Bey, Ace Austin & KENTA)

Time Machine entered first as a trio, as did Bullet Club. Tonight is this version of Bullet Club’s first match as a team. Great to see KENTA in the Impact Zone. He is the NJPW Strong Openweight Champion. KENTA and Kushida face off to start the match. They’ve never had a singles match before so this should be fun. Kushida tried to get the better of KENTA early, but KENTA used the ropes to call for a break. KENTA pointed to the Motor City Machine Guns and took down Kushida with a cheap shot. Kushida hit a dropkick then they faced off in the centre of the ring for the crowd response. KENTA tagged in Bey, who is popular in his hometown. He kicked Kushida in the guts then whipped him off the ropes, but Shelley made a blind tag and took down Bey with a dropkick. Shelley chopped Bey down to the mat but held on to the other arm so he could chop him again. Shelley missed an attack in the corner, so Bey hit a double stomp to the back and covered for a 1 count. Bey tagged Austin in who hit an arm drag on Shelley straight away. Austin targeted the left arm of Shelley. Shelley used a playing card to cut the webbing of Shelley’s fingers. Austin nailed Shelley with a suplex for another 1 count. Austin pummelled Shelley with elbow strikes. He whipped Shelley off the ropes, but again the Machine Guns used the blind tag to their advantage and here comes Sabin. Bullet Club are looking pretty dumb by not using the opposite side to utilise their offense. Shelley and Sabin hit a double team dropkick on Austin and Sabin tried a pin but Austin kicked out at 1. There were duelling chants in the crowd. Austin took down Sabin with a drop toehold and a dropkick to the head. Austin tried to knock Kushida and Shelley off the ring apron. Shelley took exception to this and locked Austin in a single-leg crab, whilst Kushida applied a modified Camel Clutch. Bey ran in to help his partner but he copped a triple team attack. KENTA was in next. Shelley and Sabin dragged him to the corner and held him down while Kushida landed a big kick. The official has missed about 2 minutes of double team work here. Shelley choked Austin out in the corner with his foot. Kushida, the legal man, finally took over with a headlock and tagged Sabin in. Sabin put Austin in a leg lock but Austin was close enough to the ropes that the referee broke the hold quickly. Sabin slammed Austin against the turnbuckle and tagged Shelley in. Shelley stretched Austin out with an Abdominal Stretch, whilst manipulating the fingers on Austin’s left hand. Kushida tagged in again and the Guns hit a double team dropkick, with Austin’s head bouncing off the middle turnbuckle pad. The official was again distracted by Bey who kept trying to run in. Bey made his own blind tag and Austin leapt over the top to take down Shelley and Sabin on the outside. He didn’t jump far over the ropes, so the faces had to catch him a bit or that could’ve been painful. Bey then ran the ropes himself and landed a senton over the ropes to take out all members of Time Machine. KENTA feigned flying over the top, but stopped and just landed body shots on Kushida on the outside. KENTA tagged in and hit some stiff kicks on Kushida who was against the ropes. KENTA hit a big knee to the mid-section of Kushida, then followed up by a kick to the back. Austin tagged in again and nailed Kushida with a knee to the back of the neck. Bey and Austin flipped Kushida into the air and into a big boot from KENTA. KENTA covered and scored a 2 count. Kushida got to his feet and hit a rolling forearm which took KENTA down. KENTA held Kushida by his trunks so Kushida slipped through and hit a Pele Kick. Kushida made the tag to Sabin and KENTA tagged in Bey. Sabin nailed Bey with a clothesline, then one to Austin who ran into the ring. Sabin hit a baseball slide on KENTA who was on the floor area. Back in the ring, Sabin hit a crossbody on both Bey and Austin. Shelley came in and clotheslined them both down. Shelley dumped KENTA to the outside. Shelley and Kushida held the middle rope open so Sabin could land a suicide dive. Shelley flew through the air and took Austin with a knee. Shelley threw Bey back into the ring and all of Time Machine hit running clotheslines in the corner. Shelley and Sabin hit their Flatliner double team move from the top but Bey kicked out just before 3. Sabin was still legal after all of this chaos. Bey tried for a German suplex so Shelley ran in to save Sabin. Referee, what are you doing?! Bey caught Sabin’s kick attempt, so Sabin tried to turn it into an enziguiri but Bey ducked and Shelley copped the blow. Kushida came in and held Bey in the corner but Bey moved and Sabin hit Kushida with a big boot. KENTA hit a big boot in the corner on Sabin then a huge hesitation dropkick. KENTA hit a double stomp off the top rope but Sabin just kicked out. KENTA set up for the GTS but Sabin rolled off his shoulders and tried a schoolboy but only got 2. Sabin hit a Brainbuster in the centre of the ring. KENTA rolled to his corner and tagged Bey in. Austin and Bey both went straight for Kushida and Shelley who were on the ring apron. They hit a nice double team neckbreaker for a very close 2 count on Sabin. Bey tagged Austin back in and they tried to set up an assisted Art of Finesse but Sabin turned it into a back suplex on Bey. Sabin planted Austin with a Tornado DDT then crawled to tag in Kushida. Kushida hit a handspring back elbow on Austin and tried to trap him in the Hoverboard Lock but Bey ran in for the save. Bey hit a big kick to the face of Kushida. Shelley in with a stiff forearm to Bey and then Sabin hit KENTA with a Shining Wizard. Austin nailed Shelley and Kushida with running knee lifts. He ran the ropes and got a triple dropkick for his trouble. Sabin tagged Kushida back in. They set up Austin in the corner and hit a triple kick on him. Austin copped Skull and Bones and then Bey prevented another triple team move, so Austin rolled up Sabin with a backslide and scored the 3 count! It went 19:04.

Winner by pinfall: Bullet Club

Analysis: ***1/2 It was a good match but I had hoped for better. The amount of double and triple team moves proved so distracting and made it hard to keep track of who was legal. The referee literally stood there and watch it happen 8-10 times in the match and did nothing. And it was more of the face team doing it than the heels. It was fun and action-packed, but there were too many run-in moments which hurt the flow of the match. I would’ve liked to see more KENTA, but they kept most of the action between the Impact tag teams. Austin winning for his team hopefully sets up a Tag Title match in the future.

There was a video package for the Impact Knockouts’ Championship match. The story has focused on the fact that Masha Slamovich thinks Mickie James is still too focused on Jordynne Grace and not respecting Masha as she should.

Match #6: Impact Knockouts’ Championship: Mickie James (c) vs Masha Slamovich

Slamovich was out first to a quiet reaction and was joined afterward by James who is always very popular with the Impact fans. The ring announcer, Dave Penzer, did the big-match introductions in the ring for the first-time tonight. They locked up physically and Mickie took Masha down with a headlock takedown. Slamovich tried a headscissors and James reversed it into an attempted choke. Slamovich targeted the left arm and wrenched down hard on it. James cartwheeled through and scored a 1 count. Slamovich used her athleticism to try to avoid an armbar but James had her shoulders pinned for a 1 count. Slamovich tried pulling James’ hair to break the submission. James bounced off the ropes and hit Slamovich with a big kick to the face for another 1 count. James measured Slamovich for the MickDT but Slamovich carried her to the ropes and bounced James face-first. Slamovich choked James out on the mat until the referee almost got to 5. Slamovich mounted James and pummelled her with right hands. The fans reacted to that with boos. Slamovich hit a big kick to the back and then a running boot to the face for a 2 count. Slamovich licked the face of James, so James started biting her tongue to get back at her! Slamovich tried to lock in the Kimura but James was close to the ropes. James rolled Masha onto her back to turn it into a pin and scored a 2 count, ensuring Slamovich relinquished the hold. Stiff forearms by Slamovich as she nailed Mickie who was on the mat. Slamovich scored a 2 count. She whipped James into the turnbuckle but James blocked with an elbow. Mickie hit a hurricanrana and a pump kick. Slamovich wasn’t too fazed and hit a big boot which sent James out of the ring. Slamovich hit a twisting senton through the ropes to take James down. The referee started to count and Slamovich tossed James back in at 7 and scored another 2 count. Slamovich dragged James around the ring by her right arm and kept kicking her in the head. James got to her feet and they exchanged a number of forearms. James got the advantage with a neckbreaker and a flying forearm. James hit a flapjack and went to the top rope. Slamovich caught her off guard and nailed a kick to the head. Slamovich climbed to the top rope but James sent her crashing down with some forearm shots. James hit a seated senton off the top for a close 2 count. Slamovich avoided the MickDT but missed a palm strike so James nailed her with a spinning back heel to the head. James covered and Slamovich just kicked out before the 3. Slamovich turned the MickDT attempt into a modified piledriver for a close 2 count. James caught Slamovich’s leg and tried to lock in a single-leg crab but Slamovich made it to the ropes quickly. Slamovich locked in the Rear Naked Choke but James was close to the ropes so the referee broke it up. Slamovich applied the hold again as soon as the referee stopped counting, but James made the ropes again. Slamovich hit a big running kick in the corner and nailed another one. James avoided a third boot so Slamovich tried a Monkey Flip but James held her shoulders down and the referee made the 3 count! The match went 12:19.

Winner by pinfall AND STILL Impact Knockouts’ Champion: Mickie James

Analysis: ***1/2 That was a really even and enjoyable match to watch. The finish was really well done and played to the nature of the contest, which was back and forth throughout. It would’ve benefited from another couple of minutes, I think, but I also like how no finishing moves were landed in the match and both women had to try different things to win. I’m not a huge fan of the same sort of finish in two consecutive matches but it suited this match more than the last one. I noticed that although Slamovich can have really powerful-looking offense on occasion, tonight there were moments where some of her strikes also barely look like they connected.

Mickie James celebrated at ringside as the commentators promoted the next Impact-Plus special, Sacrifice, as well as the Impact vs NJPW Multiverse United PPV on March 30th. That PPV already has Mike Bailey vs Will Ospreay, Josh Alexander vs Kushida and Moose vs Jeff Cobb on the card. Then we are back on Impact PPV for Rebellion in Toronto on April 16th.

There was a highlights video for the World Title match. It mostly focused on Swann trying to redeem himself after losing the title to Kenny Omega in April 2021. Alexander hasn’t been on TV a lot lately so Swann has done a decent job of being the featured man in this feud.

Match #7: Impact World Championship: Josh Alexander (c) vs Rich Swann

Dave Penzer was back in the ring for the big-match introductions. It’s a face vs face match which can be awkward to book but at least Swann has been portrayed as a more serious wrestler and less of a dancing goof. That was my hope for him in 2023. Alexander has been champion for 307 days, with 11 successful title defenses. This is one of his most obvious successful defenses, but nonetheless should be a fun match. Alexander wanted a handshake as the bell rang but Swann was just focused on the match, so slapped his hand away and said he would shake Alexander’s hand after the match. The two locked up and Alexander backed Swann into the corner. Swann shoved Alexander out of the way and they locked up again. Alexander targeted the left arm but Swann kipped up. Alexander nailed a scoop slam. Alexander took down Swann with his legs and looked for the ankle lock. The commentators put over Swann’s past ankle injuries. Swann slapped Alexander so Alexander rocked him with a knee to the gut. Alexander blocked a corner attack then Swann avoided a big boot and hit a hurricanrana. Swann hit an arm drag and locked a submission on the left arm. Alexander tried to wriggle free so Swann turned it into a side headlock. Swann hit a big dropkick after some creative counter wrestling and hit a chop in the corner. Swann avoided a suplex and a chop block. Swann went to kick Alexander, who put his hands up, but Swann stopped short and reminded him how easy it would be to kick his head off. They started a shoving match and this time Alexander slapped Swann. Swann hit Alexander with a kick to the ribs and followed up with another one. Alexander caught the third one, but Swann still nailed an enziguiri which sent Alexander to the outside. Swann flew off the ring apron with a senton. Swann tossed Alexander back into the ring and kicked Alexander hard in the back. Swann covered for the first nearfall of the match and got a 1 count. Swann tried to synch in a sleeper hold whilst Alexander was down, but the champion got to his feet. They both tried suplexes and Alexander used his strength to nail a Fisherman’s suplex. Alexander sent Swann into the ropes and hit a big back body drop. Alexander rolled through a backslide attempt into a German suplex with a bridge for a 2 count. He teed off on Swann with hard chops to the chest. Alexander clubbed Swann over the back with hard forearms. The action spilled to the outside area and Swann recovered with a back elbow. Alexander wasn’t fazed and hit a forearm to the back of Swann then tossed him back into the ring and got a 2 count. He nailed a vicious back elbow which took Swann down to the mat. Swann tried to fight back with right hands from the canvas. Alexander fought back with a big boot in the corner, right to Swann’s face. Alexander hit a running splash in the corner. He kept kneeing Swann in the face as he laid slumped against the middle turnbuckle. Swann hit a rolling clothesline as he tried to fight back into the match. Swann hit a big back elbow and a kick to the head, then clotheslined Alexander over the top rope. Swann’s momentum ensured that he spilled to the outside area too. Alexander tried to launch a running Swann into the ring post, but Swann jumped onto the apron and then nailed a twisting splash to take down Alexander on the outside. Both men made their way back into the ring. Alexander was taking his time to get to his feet so Swann hit a rolling splash, similar to RVD’s Rolling Thunder and covered for a 2 count. Alexander crawled to the corner and then switched into gear and began his series of German suplexes. He nailed 2 and then Swann made it to the ropes. He tried to climb the ropes but Alexander cut him off with a clubbing blow to the back. They fought on the top turnbuckle. Alexander wanted a super German suplex but Swann landed on his feet! Swann nailed a spinning kick and a Poisonrana for a close 2 count. Best moment of the match there, so far. Swann wanted the handspring cutter but Alexander cut him off in the ropes with a diving crossbody. Alexander tried for a moonsault but Swann rolled out of the way at the last moment. Swann nailed chops and right hands on Alexander in the corner. Swann tried for a hurricanrana but Alexander landed on his knees and trapped Swann in the ankle lock. That looked like a botch but it was a great counter. Alexander dragged Swann back to the middle of the ring, but Swann flipped out and Alexander crashed into the middle turnbuckle face-first. Swann got on top of Alexander’s shoulders and went for another Poisonrana but Alexander held onto Swann’s legs and sent him face-first into the mat. Swann avoided a clothesline and hit the Falcon Arrow for a close 2 count. Alexander got quickly to his feet and tried a surprise inside cradle for a 2 count. Swann avoided a backslide and Alexander nailed the C4 Spike but was too fatigued to cover straight away. Swann managed to roll out of the ring and avoid a pinfall. Alexander stomped away on Swann, who had climbed back up onto the ring apron. Alexander hit a powerslam on the ring apron. Back in the ring, Alexander wanted the C4 Spike again but Swann landed on his feet and nailed two big kicks to the head of the champion. Swann hit a 3rd kick and went to the top rope. Swann hit the Phoenix Splash off the middle rope but Alexander kicked out at the last moment. He tried it again but crashed into the mat face-first. Alexander locked in the anklelock and grapevined the left leg. Swann stood up in the submission and tried to fight back with right hands but Alexander applied more pressure. Swann fought back again and knocked Alexander’s headgear off, forcing him to release the hold. Alexander looked wobbly and they exchanged slaps and chops. Swann landed the handspring cutter for a 2 count. He tried another one but Alexander caught him and nailed a spinning Tombstone Piledriver. Alexander hit the C4 Spike to retain the title. It went 25:13.

Winner by pinfall AND STILL Impact World Champion: Josh Alexander

Analysis: ***3/4 I appreciated the effort from both men here, but the face vs. face dynamic affected my investment in the match along with the fact that it was so predictable that Alexander was going to win. I enjoyed the intensity of the match and again the fact that Swann is being treated as a more serious wrestler. There were some great counters in the match up and Swann did some crafty, but simple, little things that added to the quality of the match, such as the way he avoided certain pinning situations throughout. It wasn’t the usual classic you’d expect from Alexander when you get 25 minutes, but it was still pretty good.

They showed highlights of the end of the match up. Alexander held his championship in the air and celebrated on the top turnbuckle.

Analysis: I thought Maclin might strike but there’s plenty of time for that to occur.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

It was a decent show which probably fell below the expectations I had set for it. Every match left me wanting a few extra minutes or something more. It’s rare for me to watch a monthly show or PPV and not rate any matches in the **** category. That’s strictly my opinion though, but I just didn’t feel that anything was that great tonight. The best match was probably the main event, but I enjoyed the Knockouts’ Title match the most as it was an even contest and they both played to their strengths. Little tweaks to the card, such as having the Monster’s Ball match from last week’s Impact weekly show (which I rated 4 stars) or giving Bailey/Gresham 20 minutes on the main show and not 10 on the preshow would’ve lifted the overall quality of the show. However, as usual, it was a good effort from all involved, despite nothing on the night being that memorable.

Any feedback or comments are welcome. My email address is in case anybody wants to get in touch with me and my Twitter handle is @thomok6 as well. Thanks for reading!